U.S. Museum Exhibitions

The following guide to museum shows currently on view is compiled from Artforum’s three-times-yearly exhibition preview. Subscribe now to begin a year of Artforum—the world’s leading magazine of contemporary art. You’ll get all three big preview issues, featuring Artforum’s comprehensive advance roundups of the shows to see each season around the globe.

Anthony Braxton, Falling River Music (366a), 2004–, acrylic and ink on paper, 11 × 17". From “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now.”

“The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now”

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART | CHICAGO
CHICAGO
Through November 22
Curated by Naomi Beckwith and Dieter Roelstraete

Black modernity, in its many splendors, is the focus of “The Freedom Principle.” The fifty-years-young Chicago music collective AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) grounds the exhibition in the rowdy and riotous 1960s jazz insurgency sparked by Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane, and the AACM’s own world-renowned modernists: Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, George Lewis, Wadada Leo Smith, and flagship group the Art Ensemble of Chicago. The AACM’s ethos of independence and intrepid exploration has infused the work of two subsequent generations of Afrocentric modernists and futurists. Sharing space with a plethora of artifacts, including original printed materials and photographs from the AACM archive, are works by renowned fellow travelers AfriCOBRA, as well as by more contemporary conceptualist-Maroon operatives such as Terry Adkins, Cauleen Smith, Renée Green, and Nick Cave.

Greg Tate

“Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography”

J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM
LOS ANGELES
Through September 6
Curated by Virginia Heckert

Exactly what photography is at this point is an open question. Proliferating digital technologies and omnipresent smartphone cameras have made photographic imaging ridiculously easy, costless, and ubiquitous—a flow of experiences rather than staccato decisive moments. Reflecting on the fundamental nature of the medium, a host of contemporary artist-photographers have been experimenting with the medium’s obsolescing materials and practices. Some expose outdated papers, some scratch or waterlog their prints, and some reject the photographic apparatus wholesale—generating controversy while challenging notions of what defines a photograph. This timely exhibition and catalogue showcase seven key artists in this surging debate: Matthew Brandt, Marco Breuer, John Chiara, Chris McCaw, Lisa Oppenheim, Alison Rossiter, and James Welling, alongside process-focused predecessors including Man Ray, and Henry Holmes Smith. Whether the present generation is reinventing photography or merely picking over its still-warm corpse remains to be seen.

Brian Wallis

“Perfect Likeness: Photography and Composition”

HAMMER MUSEUM
LOS ANGELES
Through September 13
Curated by Russell Ferguson

In his seminal 1972 essay “Understanding a Photograph,” John Berger wrote that “composition in the profound, formative sense of the word cannot enter into photography.” Such questions regarding the medium’s essential characteristics, its capabilities, and its “proper task” have been continually contested since its advent nearly two hundred years ago. But as photographic imagery becomes embedded within an ever-proliferating array of visual spaces, the contemporary viewer is even harder pressed to isolate and articulate the photograph’s distinguishing qualities. Ferguson’s exacting and conceptually ambitious exhibition will consider the possibility of rigorous and intentional composition in the work of such prominent contemporary photographers as Stan Douglas, Annette Kelm, Barbara Probst, Jeff Wall, and Christopher Williams. Featuring more than fifty photographs by some two dozen artists, this exhibition promises to explore the narrative repercussions of deliberate formal intervention.

Isabel Flower

Noah Purifoy, Hanging Tree, 1990, mixed media, 52 × 40". © Noah Purifoy Foundation.

“Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada”

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART (LACMA)
LOS ANGELES
Through February 28, 2016
Curated by Franklin Sirmans and Yael Lipschutz

This exhibition reevaluates the vital yet understudied practice of Noah Purifoy (1917–2004), an artist and activist whose melding of collage and community outreach would influence numerous succeeding practitioners. Born in Alabama, Purifoy moved in 1950 to Southern California, where he would execute his signature 1966 exhibition “66 Signs of Neon,” whose works Purifoy and others crafted from the debris of the previous year’s Watts rebellion, and the sprawling constellation of assemblages (1989–2004) that comprise his Joshua Tree Outdoor Desert Art Museum. “Junk Dada” will feature a selection of modes from Purifoy’s diverse oeuvre, from collages to sculptures to installations, and promises to assert his importance within histories of the found object. The accompanying catalogue will include an interview with Purifoy; essays by colleagues, critics, and historians; and a never-before-published portfolio of the artist’s photography.

Huey Copeland

Calder, Sandback, and Tuttle

PULITZER ARTS FOUNDATION
SAINT LOUIS
Through September 12
Curated by Carmen Giménez, Tamara H. Schenkenberg and Emily Rauh Pulitzer

Tadao Ando’s 2001 building for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation is both minimal and restrained, but it’s not quite a white cube. It is light gray, the color of the architect’s signature cast-in-place concrete, and its complex interiors, marked by carefully layered spaces and subtle plays of height and volume, belie the boxlike simplicity of its silhouette. As the latest spate of high-profile institutional projects reveals that museum architecture is still defined by the familiar polarity between overwhelming excess and mind-numbing neutrality, Ando’s recently completed renovation of the Pulitzer (which has transformed the building’s lower administrative and storage level into new galleries) could not be more timely. The inaugural, multilevel installation of solo exhibitions of the work of Alexander Calder, Fred Sandback, and Richard Tuttle serves to emphasize visual and spatial interconnection, demonstrating that a museum can actively shape the viewer’s experience without overpowering the art or simply fading into the background.

Julian Rose

Wanda Pimentel, Untitled—Série Envolvimento, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 45 3/4 × 35 1/8". From “International
Pop.”

“International Pop”

WALKER ART CENTER
MINNEAPOLIS
Through September 6
Curated by Darsie Alexander with Bartholomew Ryan

If a select few of Pop art’s past and present stars (think Sigmar Polke and Jeff Koons) recently took New York, the Walker Art Center’s upcoming exhibition—featuring some 140 works produced over the course of three decades on four continents—aims to widen our Pop horizons far beyond the usual names and locales. Alongside such household brands as Warhol and Rauschenberg, Polke will make an appearance, but so too will his (less recognized) fellow Capitalist Realists Konrad Lueg and Manfred Kuttner, here joined by Argentineans Marta Minujín and Edgardo Giménez, Brazilian Wanda Pimentel, and the Japanese-born Ushio Shinohara and Yayoi Kusama, among many others. Incorporating an extensive film and video program and showcasing works across media, the Walker exhibition and accompanying catalogue promise an unmatched opportunity to assess Pop’s global reach, and (it’s Pop, after all) to see some standout works by a few undisputed stars in the process. Travels to the Dallas Museum of Art, Oct. 11–Jan. 17, 2016; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Feb. 18–May 15, 2016.

Graham Bader